Avatars: Living in Other Worlds

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Anthropology

Liberal Arts

Undergraduate Course

Degree Students


Fall 2019

Taught By: Volkan Eke

Section: A

CRN: 7897

Credits: 4

What if we could live in worlds not assigned at birth? This course examines how people use videogames to enter virtual worlds and explore new identities by inhabiting avatars. In recent decades, such behavior has become the object of intense problematization of the alleged social withdrawal and addiction of gamers whose immersion in violent games might spill into the real world. However, such moral panics are not new: The rise of the novel in the 18th century had already provoked concerns about – mostly female – readers withdrawing into imaginary worlds instead of living up to social expectations. Long before the invention of Virtual Reality, humans entered virtual worlds in dramatic performances with the help of costumes and masks, dance-floor trances, in drug-induced shamanic quests, ritual hunts, wrestling games, etc. Playing has always involved taking on different roles in front of the watchful eyes of other humans, animals, or spirits. Today, however, games allow players to try out new identities, or express sheltered ones as they live with their virtual alter egos. This course will compare and contrast contemporary videogames with other kinds of virtual worlds. Collectively, students will build a compendium of the virtual worlds that we examine in-depth over the course of the semester. For anthropology majors, this course satisfies the Reading or Doing requirement.

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: Anthropology (LANT)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Max Enrollment: 21

Add/Drop Deadline: September 9, 2019 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 17, 2019 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

*Status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 11:17pm 2/28/2020 EST

Meeting Info:

Days: Monday, Wednesday

Times: 12:00pm - 1:40pm

Building: 6 East 16th Street

Room: 913

Date Range: 8/26/2019 - 12/16/2019